Santa must be puzzling over whether our dog Honey will earn a piece of coal or a package of liverwurst. Is she a good dog or a bad dog?
After all, what do you do if naughty and nice are the same thing?
My Dog Is Naughty – Part 1
Honey is a great dog. But she has one naughty habit.
In fact, she is so naughty in this area that she almost failed her Canine Good Citizen test.
No matter how much training, how much practice, Honey is a naughty greeter.
If the dock master makes goo goo eyes at her while we’re docking, we worry that Honey will jump off the boat to meet him.
A friend visits in the cockpit and Honey wants to crawl into their lap.
When tourists walking around town spot her and make happy noises, she pulls on the leash to say hello.
I’ve tried to use her usually perfect down-stay cue. I’ve used treats to compete with the draw of a friendly stranger. But nothing works.
Well. one thing works.
If the stranger ignores her or offers only the calmest greeting, Honey settles down quickly. But with the least bit of encouragement, she goes nuts.
My Dog Is Nice – Part 1
Honey is the most friendly dog ever.
She loves all people. She wants everyone to be her friend.
It’s hard to feel low when she starts the whole-body wiggle at the sight of someone she loves. And as I mentioned earlier, she loves EVERYONE.
I’m not proud when she stands on someone’s lap and breathes into their face. Or when she pulls on her leash to rush up to someone who wants to meet her.
But in the scheme of things, as long as she has enough judgment to not hurt anyone (and she appears to know when to tame her enthusiasm if a recipient is vulnerable), I see this trait as more nice than naughty.
So I will keep training by rewarding her for calm greetings. And I’ll do some management by tethering her when people visit.
But for now, I see her naughtiness as fairly nice.
My Dog Is Nice – Part 2
Honey came to live with us when she was 8 weeks old. Two weeks later, she was nearly perfectly house trained and sleeping through the night.
It was an effort.
Honey came to work with me until she was perfectly house trained and able to stay home alone for more than a couple of hours.
When she was a young adolescent, Honey got very sick from swallowing a squeaky toy that blocked her intestine. Despite suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, she had very few accidents in the house.
This dog’s house training is rock solid.
My Dog Is Naughty – Part 2
Did I mention we live on a boat?
We know tons of people cruising with pets.
Cats are easy. They have a litter box.
But most dogs learn how to relieve themselves on the boat. If they don’t, their people have to take them off the boat at least twice a day.
Did I mention we take Honey off the boat at least twice a day?
Yep, despite trying to train her to potty on a mat before we moved on board, Honey has never taken to it.
And because of that, we don’t have any near plans to visit the Bahamas. The British Virgin Islands are off the table. And forget about the Mediterranean.
So while people losing sleep while house training a puppy would envy our success with Honey, when we’re searching frantically for an abandoned boat ramp in a snake-infested nature preserve in the pouring rain for the dog to pee, she feels kinda naughty to me.
Sometimes Naughty Is Nice And Nice Is Naughty
I haven’t given up on training Honey to greet strangers calmly. And I still try to get her to “go” on the deck.
But I know how blessed I am to have Honey. And if she’s just a little bit naughty, maybe that’s okay.
After all, why should my dog to be perfect when I’m not? And I don’t believe in Santa anyway.
Your Turn: Have you ever decided to accept your dog’s “naughtiness” and even see it as “nice?”
This month, the theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is Naughty & Nice: Your Dog’s Good Points and Bad Points and How You’re Working to Improve Them. All positive training posts, though, are welcome. The hop is open all week, so please join us with your positive training posts and be sure to check out all the great blogs linking up with Travels with Barley, Wag ‘n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier.